Unaided Smoking Cessation in Healthy Employees

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Background: According to guidelines, behavioral and pharmacological assistance should be offered to all smokers willing to quit. However, a large proportion of ex-cigarette smokers are self-quitters. Objectives: To identify characteristics of long-term, unaided self-quitters, as compared to recurrent smokers among health care employees. Methods: University hospital employees (n = 5,218) were addressed through a 17-question questionnaire inquiring about past and current smoking behavior. Questions included daily cigarette consumption, pack-years, previous quit attempts, smoking-free period, and utilization of pharmacological therapies and counseling. Results: 2,574 (49.3%) questionnaires were returned. 791 subjects declared to have successfully quit smoking. A complete data set was available for 763 cases. Patients remained smoking free for a mean period of 11.8 ± 9.7 years. The most common smoking cessation method in these subjects was unaided (77.2%), followed by alternative approaches (15.4%), nicotine replacement therapy (4.5%), counseling (1.7%), and bupropion (1.2%). Smoking cessation was achieved with 1 attempt in 53% of the cases, 2 in 19%, 3 in 13%, and more than 3 attempts in 15%, respectively. On average, 2.4 ± 3.02 attempts led to successful smoking cessation. After 2 or more unsuccessful attempts, the odds ratio for a further unsuccessful smoking cessation was 2.58 (95% CI 1.94–3.45). Conclusion: The majority of the ex-smokers quitted smoking without any behavioral or pharmacological support. The chance to successfully quit smoking without any help in a first or second attempt is considerably high. The risk for smoking recurrence after 2 ineffective quit attempts is markedly increased (OR 2.58).

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